Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oneself as Another, Framed Through a Mug Shot

The young basketball star said all the right things, the day after his drunken driving arrest.

Timberwolves' power forward Al Jefferson, known an Big Al, was booked into jail in the early morning hours of March 1 on a charge of fourth-degree driving while impaired. He had made the choice to drink and then drive, only to be stopped by an officer of the state patrol on I-394 just outside downtown Minneapolis. A breath test administered at the scene showed his blood-alcohol content to be over the legal limit of .08.

Jefferson was out on bail within an hour, but his mug shot soon appeared on TV. The T-Wolves responded quickly by suspending Jefferson for two games, costing him $293,000 in lost salary.

The next day, Jefferson seemed genuinely remorseful. He apologized to his teammates, team management, fans, and his family (particularly the grandmother who raised him) for making a "stupid choice." He'd seriously considered calling someone to drive him home to Golden Valley, but then got in his car anyway.

In a lengthy interview with the Star Tribune, Jefferson acknowledged that the death of Timberwolves' player Malik Sealy at the hands of a drunk driver in May 2000 makes Jefferson's decision to drink and drive all the more disappointing.

"That's what really makes me feel bad. He was an innocent guy going home and a drunk driver hit him. I couldn't live with myself if that would have happened, if I would have done something to someone like that."

So Big Al seems to get it. Driving while impaired, he could have ended up like the man who killed Sealy. A mug shot is not a pretty picture, but at least Al Jefferson is seeing clearly through its frame.

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